PHILIPSBURG–The representatives of new airline St. Maarten Airways were boldly encouraged on Tuesday to go after more of the available aviation market and not be afraid to compete with other airlines including partially government-owned Windward Islands Airways International Winair by several Members of Parliament (MPs), including Frans Richardson (United St. Maarten Party), Christophe Emmanuel and George Pantophlet of National Alliance (NA).
Though the new airline is catering to many of the same routes as Winair and its top tier is made up of primarily former Winair top management, the representatives were keen to point out they were not in competition with Winair. Their aim is to fill niches in the market.
Airline Managing Director Rolando Brison and shareholders Elvis Queeley, Michel Carter and Jeff Oliver met MPs in a Central Committee meeting of Parliament about the airline’s plans and vision. They highlight the idea for the on-demand airline, educational initiatives, market analysis, share availability for local purchase and operational perspectives. Brison shared information about financing for the airline, the process to obtain all licences and meet all requirements of the Civil Aviation Department.
MPs told the representatives they stand ready to support the effort and clear bottlenecks should their assistance be needed.
MP Frans Richardson said he was proud to see St. Maarteners embark on such a venture and urged them to give Winair competition. “Don’t be afraid. They probably won’t just accept it. But, Winair needs competition especially on the St. Kitts, Nevis, Statia and Saba routes. But, they need competition. Winair isn’t even owned fully by St. Maarten, it is owned partially by the Dutch. At least with St. Maarten Airways, we can say that something is 100 per cent owned by St. Maarteners,” Richardson said.
Responding to Richardson’s question about why the team members left a secure job (at Winair) to form an airline with no guarantees, Jeff Oliver, former Chief Pilot of Winair said he, Elvis Queeley and Michel Carter were the driving forces at Winair. “If there is any team that can make SXM Airways a success, it’s this team. We share the confidence that we can get this done.”
MP Tamara Leonard (United People’s Party) said the aspect of cooperation with other airlines such as Windward Express, which has pledged to assist the start-up company, “is a positive sign of hope.”
MP Emmanuel said he was very happy to see members of his generation finally doing for themselves instead of just complaining.
MP Franklin Meyers (UP) said St. Maarten Airways is an example that “our people don’t want to be just workers anymore, they want to own.”
Brison thanked efforts of former Transport Minister Claret Connor for assisting with the airline licences. He also thanked management of Princess Juliana International Airport SXM for its vital cooperation.
St. Maarten Airways plans to provide on demand travel for a niche market of travellers out of the airport, which is said to be a much needed service to supplement the growing need for on-demand travel in the region.
Brison said the airline can be considered “a genuine local initiative.” He outlined the airline’s vision to provide plenty of internships for local students.
The airline will also assist other airlines with discounted fees in the event they are overbooked, are unable to fulfil flights or need assistance transporting baggage. “When other airlines coming to St. Maarten fail to deliver, it reflects poorly not just on the airline, but on our airport and overall aviation product. This is why we will offer deeply discounted rates to other local airlines so that our small fleet can assist them wherever the need arises,” he said.
Source: The Daily Herald SXM Airways outlines plans to MPs, encouraged to reach more of market